Photo: U.S. military personnel wait in line for Thanksgiving dinner at a coalition air base in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq. (Felipe Dana / AP / wsj.com)
To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks
Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.
To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks. To see fully, the beauty of a daughter’s face across the table, of a son’s outline against the mountains, is to be fully grateful without having to seek a God to thank him. To sit among friends and strangers, hearing many voices, strange opinions; to intuit even stranger inner lives beneath calm surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone amongst all other someones, and therefore to make a conversation without saying a word, is to deepen our sense of presence and therefore our natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness all at once.
Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. We sit at the table as part of every other person’s strange world while making our own world without will or effort, this is what is extraordinary and gifted, this is the essence of gratefulness, seeing to the heart of privilege.
Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets and fully beholds all other presences. Being unappreciative, feeling distant, might mean we are simply not paying attention.
~ David Whyte, from “Gratitude” in Consolation: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.
~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment
Notes: Photo: Mennyfox55
Tuesday evening. Downtown Manhattan. I’m hailing a cab. Rich food swims in Chardonnay. Wind bursts chill the bones: Winter.
I flip on Waze with an eye out for a cab – 16 minutes to Grand Central. The 8:36 train departs in 18 minutes. Unlikely, but possible.
“Be great if I can catch the 8:36.” This is NYC Cabbie code – a much larger tip in it for you if you giddyap. It’s the American Way: Proper incentives = desired behavior. I buckle my seatbelt, grip the armrest and hope for the best.
He bolts through traffic – Rabbit with lock on the Carrot. Think bumper car or go cart sans contact, with the same weaving, bobbing, braking and jarring.
We arrive at the station at 8:36. I run to the gate, hopeful for a train delay. I watch the fading red tail lights down the tunnel, wheezing, trying to catch my breath. Damn! Next train, 30 minutes.
I walk to the next gate, board the train, find a seat, and get comfortable. Chardonnay burns off. Fatigue rolls in, eyes are burning on four hours of sleep. I pop in my ear buds, turn on soft ambient music, lean my head against the window, and close my eyes. Just 10 minutes, please, just 10.
The smartphone buzzes in my pocket, a text message. Let it go. Just let it go. [Read more…]
She started it.
With the taunts. The insults: “Jelly Belly.” “Man Boobs.” “Sad.”
This being Daddy’s Girl.
Daddy’s Creation. I built THAT.
She’s 2x younger. Or better stated, Dad’s 2x older.
And, then, she threw out the bait.
Dad: “Let’s compare daily step counts. Download this App. Maybe we can get that (pointing to the belly) in better shape.”
So, it has become a Father-Daughter ritual.
Each night, before bedtime, we check our step counts via a text share.
Week 1 was a partial week and a ramp up week – – and her gloating.
Week 2 is the first full week and both sides are in full stride.
She shares her report tonight. Her steps are shown above – along with her step count each day for the last 7 days.
My response: “Not bad Honey. :)”
I then reciprocate and send her my daily report. (Below) [Read more…]
The subway rumbles underground, the earth trembles under my feet. Out of the corner of my eye, a flourish and a rustle. I turn.
Blue waste paper twirls in a whirlwind. It spins upward in the current before landing gently on the concrete in front of the hulking sky scraper.
It’s 6 am. A still, windless morning in Midtown. A single piece of wastepaper lifts the Blues, lightness fills the cavity.
I turn my head back to see it stir.
Is that you?
I ran the morning of his “expiration.” Same route. There was no rustling, no reason to turn, but my attention is pulled hard right to the other side of the highway. A doe, large, silent, and frozen in spot, stares. Our eyes lock. Go ahead Girl, speak to me. I’m listening.
Two hours “before”, I’m watching The Man Who Knew Infinity, an inspiring flick about Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught Indian genius who forged a bond with his math professor, G.H. Hardy, while fighting an institution that refused to acknowledge his achievements (racism, jealousy, fear). Here’s Hardy, an atheist and his mentor, in a speech to a skeptical decisioning board: “So, now we see the enormous breakthrough that he has achieved…Mr. Ramanujan told me that an equation had no meaning unless it expressed a thought of God…Well, despite everything in my being set to the contrary, perhaps he is right…So, in the end, I have been forced to consider, who are we to question Ramanujan, let alone God.” Just as Hardy finishes his impassioned plea, Zeke, prostrate on the hard wood floor, starts choking, unable to catch his breath, the tumor working its devilish deed. Why now? Why so soon? Who am I to question…?
Minutes “after“, I look in his water dish, peanut shells float in lukewarm water, undigested remains and backwash from his lock jaw. We need to remove the water dish, his food dish, his crate, his toys and everything else. Yet, while all physical remnants have been cleared, the silence from the absence of his footsteps, his swishing tail, his presence, all Thunder in this empty house.
Vizsla’s are “velcro” dogs, restless, following you everywhere, all the time. What happens when your shadow of eight years, is no longer there, no longer anywhere but in your head. You continuously look over your shoulder feeling something, yet there’s nothing there. With the velcro detached, when do You become detached, unstuck, unhinged? [Read more…]
While she cooked she’d looked out the window and the daffodils were blooming around the birdbath, and Henry was home, and the house was quiet, and she felt her own luck. There was Henry home and Charlie and Tommy and her house with the bird feeder and summer vacation soon and she felt her own luck at having this quiet moment, this life, this day.
~ Sharon Guskin, The Forgetting Time: A Novel
Photo: Elif Sanem Karakoc